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EPA to Clean up Hazardous Waste Site in Kearny, N.J.

Contact Information: 
David Kluesner (

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its cleanup plan to address contaminated soil and sediment at the Diamond Head Oil Refinery Superfund site located in Kearny, N.J. The EPA’s record of decision amends a 2009 cleanup plan to increase the effectiveness of the cleanup planned at the site. Soil and sediment at the site are contaminated with PCBs, dioxin and volatile organic compounds resulting from decades of operation by a defunct oil recycling facility at the site.

“Removing contaminated soil and sediment from this site will remove a threat to this community,” said Catherine McCabe, Acting Regional Administrator. “We will continue our work at this site until it no longer poses a potential long-term risk to the public."

The Diamond Head Oil Refinery Superfund site is a 30-acre area located near the Hackensack Meadowlands. The site was the former location of a waste oil reprocessing facility from 1946 to 1979. During facility operations oily waste was stored, leaked and discharged directly to adjacent properties, including the wetland area to the south of the site, creating an “oil lake.” Facility operations contaminated soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater with PCBs, dioxin, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants.

During the 1970s, the state of N.J. removed over 10 million gallons of oil and oily waste and over 230,000 cubic yards of oily sludge from the site. The facility was dismantled in the 1980s. In 2002, after a request by the NJDEP and subsequent study, EPA added the site to the Superfund list.

Cleanup of Contamination Sources:

In 2009, EPA chose a cleanup plan, which included a combination of disposal of contaminated material and bioremediation (the use of microorganisms to consume and break down pollution) to address the contamination. EPA tested the use of bioremediation technology at the site and subsequently determined that it would not provide sufficient long-term protection from the contamination. Instead, under today’s amendment to the 2009 cleanup plan, contaminated soil in the area of the former oil lake will be dug up and disposed of at facilities licensed to receive the waste. The excavated areas will then be filled with clean soil. Approximately 49,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be removed. This stage of the cleanup is estimated at $14 million.

Cleanup of other Contaminated Areas:

The second component of EPA’s cleanup decision addresses contaminated soil and sediment that are not thought to be major sources of contamination. EPA will excavate and remove two feet of contaminated soil and then cover remaining contamination at the site with two feet of clean fill. Wetland areas would also be excavated to a depth of two feet to accommodate the soil cover. Sediment in the drainage ditch along highway I-280 would be excavated to an approximate depth of 18 inches. Approximately 440 cubic yards of contaminated soil containing PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants, and 800 cubic yards of contaminated sediment would be removed under this plan and transported to facilities licensed to receive the waste. The cost of this stage of the cleanup is estimated at $10 million. Contaminated groundwater will be addressed by EPA in a future cleanup proposal.

EPA is requiring restrictions on how the site can be used in the future to ensure that activities at the site do not interfere with the cleanup. EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

The EPA held a public meeting in Kearny on June 29, 2017 to explain its decision. The EPA accepted public comments for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

To read the EPA’s final decision, outlined in a record of decision, please visit:

The Superfund program is a cornerstone of the work that the EPA performs for citizens and communities across the country. On July 25, 2017 Administrator Pruitt accepted recommendations from the task force established on May 22, 2017 to revitalize the Superfund program.  “My goal as Administrator is to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s core mission.”

The task force’s recommendations focused on five overarching goals: expediting cleanup and remediation, reinvigorating cleanup and reuse efforts by potentially responsible parties, encouraging private investment to facilitate cleanup and reuse, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization and engaging with partners and stakeholders. Work to prioritize and reinvigorate the program by the task force has been initiated and will be ongoing into the future.

The Superfund Task Force Recommendations can be viewed at

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